Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 at 4:05 pm  |  22 responses

Jordans Still Got It

The Space Jam XI steals the show for the second time this decade.

by Chris O’Leary /@olearychris

If the mark of a successful shoe release is buzz, consider the return of the Space Jam Air Jordan XI one for the books.

The stroke of midnight brought with it a frenzy that only the release of an XI can. Retailers opened their doors to hordes of sneakerheads from coast-to-coast last night and at the same time, those retailers watched their respective websites crash under the strain of thousands of customers who all wanted their J’s while sitting at home. By 2 a.m. Mountain Time, the term #spacejams had rocketed its way up to the fourth-highest trending topic on Twitter.

It’s easy to say that the return of the Space Jam has the sneaker community bursting at the seams. The staggering page count on message boards only hammers home the obvious, as it seems like heads everywhere are enjoying a long-awaited fix.

I was lucky enough to go through a much less dramatic pickup of the shoe this morning (a rare perk of being a sneaker enthusiast way up north). In all honesty, there was a longer lineup at Tim Horton’s than there was at Foot Locker in the West Edmonton Mall this morning.


After the joy of adding an important grail to my collection subsided enough so that I could focus on writing again, I realized that the Space Jam provides the ultimate in conundrums. A shoe of this significance, with this kind of following, with this much justified hype on it, it almost demands that something be written on it.

But what more can be said about the Air Jordan XI?

The single-most iconic shoe of the last 15 years? Easy.
Revolutionary materials? Check.
The most-coveted sneaker, regardless of colorway, in the Air Jordan line? Definitely. 
A direction-changing sneaker for the industry? No question.

The fact that Jordan’s greatest single-season meshed perfectly with what was on his feet? Maybe we can get into that a little.

It’s not that the Air Jordan line was slipping in 1995. The Jordan IX and X were popular with consumers, and players across the league wore the X, Jordan included. But with Mike’s first full season back on the court being 1995-96, on the heels of a portion of a season played plus an unsuccessful playoff run the season prior, MJ was back for-real for-real, and everyone was waiting to see what would happen.


The XI proved to be the personification of Jordan’s comeback. In the same way that Jordan returned that season hungrier than ever, flossing a refined outside game, the XI was the classed-up addition to the Air Jordan line. No need for being the cut-your-heart-out, coming-at-you-at-every-chance sneaker anymore, the Jordan XI was like James Bond: just as lethal, but killing you in style, getting the job done better than anyone else and still not wrinkling the tux. The results he had in those shoes: All-Star, regular-season and Finals MVP, League scoring leader, 72 wins and his fourth Championship might as well all be tucked into the sneakers themselves, then enshrined in Springfield.

There’s a reason why people wear this shoe to their high school/college graduations, to weddings, why they save them for big games only. The Air Jordan XI, the Space Jam in particular, is the Rolls Royce of basketball footwear. It’s aesthetic perfection, almost too nice to put on your feet. If there’s any one sneaker out there that you should treat like royalty, it’s the XI. And if the XI is royalty, the Space Jam is the crown jewel.

Having only worn the shoes in the Bulls’ playoff loss to the Magic in ’95 and of course in Space Jam, the shoes existed as player editions initially, only hitting retailers for the first time in 2000, just over nine years ago to the day. If you ask me, this is the best way that Jordan Brand could have bookended this decade. Now we can start lobbying for a cool grey XI re-release. Maybe by 2019?

Pics via Footlocker.

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  • Teddy-the-Bear

    FIRST! Man that is a nice shoe…

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Yea, I didn’t join in on the hype cause I got the Black/reds =) Congrats on those who picked up these babies though!

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    I just noticed they site you linked called them Tennis shoes. Epic fail.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    How much do these retail for and how many were released? I always wanted a pair of these as a kid, but mom and pops weren’t spending that kind of money on shoes. If they aren’t sold out maybe I’ll cop some now.

  • Mik Jordan

    I’ve got 3 pairs, holla at me if you want to buy one, it’s 2lateb*tch@gmail.com hahah

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Gawd they are nice, still got my OG blk/reds and i haven’t played in Jordans in years, but i’d LOVE to have these.. “saketin saketawwww, they’re monsters. No, they’re monSTAHHHH’S”.

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    I’m not gonna lie: if I had to choose between these shoes or a steaming night with Scarlett Johansson, I would definitely would go for the shoes.

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    (I was lying by the way, even though the shoes look great, I am not an idiot)

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    Yeah, I actually still have the OG releases of these, still in the box and everything. The new ones aren’t nearly of the same quality as the originals from Christmas 2000.

  • Jrooks

    Why are parents that cant pay the bills or hardly put food on the table buying their kids these shoes

  • Jrooks

    Why are parents that cant pay the bills or hardly put food on the table buying their kids these shoes .

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  • http://www.mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    because they look so good, Jrooks!

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I seriously doubt that any parents struggling to put food on the table went and copped these. Do you perhaps have some proof of that assertion or were you speaking from your posterior?

  • http://anthony.griffinsr@yahoo.com grif36

    He never lost it anything with jordan name on it will sell no doubt he’s jordan business is business

  • derrick

    shoes are dope for real but i’m not gonna spend $175 for them. when they originally dropped they were $125.

  • ENDS

    i feel the same way derrick

  • Jrooks

    True parents do that all the time

  • Kas

    Best shoe ever. I’ve got 3 pairs of the red/White/black/ and a white/black. god that’shot

  • J

    the best Air Jordan of all time. any colorway/version rocks.

  • anti-crust

    gum soul

  • Diablo23

    waited and niketown In vegas for 2 hours i was one of the luck ones to get a pair as they had a raffle